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Full text of "Mind's Eye: Reviews and Comment April 1977"

The Minds Eye: Reviews and Comment 



North Adams State College 

Editorial 

INVITATION 

Hardly a living soul has not heard Thoreau's 
cry of distress, "The mass of men lead lives 
of quiet desperation." Less well known is 
his follow-on thought, "What is called resig- 
nation is confirmed desperation." 

The paradox and frustration for those who 
lead the life of the mind are that they have 
so small a part in it. When you trade in 
ideas for a living, the urge to say something 
and the need for a place to say it are over- 
riding. But, because publication is such a 
big deal, the mass of us, reluctantly 
resigned to silence, slide unawares into 
Thoreau's confirmed desperation. 

The Mind's Eye is a smaller deal. In its 
pages you can say what you think about what 
you read, what you see and hear, what you 
feel, what you aspire to. Say, an article in 
this month's Atlantic gripped you. Not 
everybody manages to see the Atlantic . So 
share it with an abstract/review in The 
Hind's Eye . 

It might be a film, a book, a piece of a 
book, a speech, a meeting. A scientific 
matter — the DNA recombinant controversy — 
that everyone should hear about. Social and 
political developments — the Maine and Mashpee 
Indian land claims that look so preposterous, 
but aren't. The changing face of religion, 
the growing problems of education, the 
nuclear arms race, poverty and hunger, busi- 
ness and industry, city and country, envir- 
onmental degradation, poetry, the literary 
imagination, psychology, history, art, philo- 
sophy, music, Bill Bradley, or Luis Tiant. 

You are invited to say something. This is 
the place. 

OH WRITING 

Afraid of writing? The best writers are. 
See Sara Davidson's interview with Joan 
Didion in The New York Times Ma gazine, 
April 3. Miss Didion, on going into her 
study to write: "It's low dread every 



Volume 1, Number 1, April 1977 



morning. . . . It's a fear you're not going to 
get it right. You're going to ruin it. You're 
going to fail." 

— Ed.— 

CHALLENGE TO CLEF 

Tests for credit-by-examination are still re- 
garded in some educational circles as something 
faintly disreputable. Educators have found 
reason to question their implications. Profes- 
sor Carl Stecher of Salem State College has 
raised the latest challenge to one of these 
tests, the College-Level Examination Program 
(CLEP) . Stecher has written a provocative 
article, "CLEP and the Great Credit Giveaway," 
in the March Change . Stecher 's basic criti- 
cisms are of the uses and abuses of CLEP , 
the national norming standards, and the content 
of the five General Examinations: English 
Composition, Natural Science, Mathematics, 
Humanities, and Social Science-History. The 
article is well documented and researched; 
Stecher has done his homework. 

As a result, the CLEP people will offer a 
rebuttal in the April Change . Certainly, it 
will contradict many of Stecher' s interpreta- 
tions and conclusions, based, by the way, on 
data provided by CLEP. For example, Stecher 
quotes the College Entrance Examination Board/ 
Educational Testing Service as follows: 
"The typical (participating) institution 
granted credit to 74% of its students who sub- 
mitted scores." Stecher calls this astonish- 
ing. Indeed it is, if true. (No such success 
rate is seen on this campus.) 

Stecher' s strictures against the national norm- 
ing standards and the content of the General 
Examinations are more important and lie at the 
heart of the debate. Whatever approach CEEB/ 
ETS takes to them, the response will be inter- 
esting. CEEB has previously acknowledged, 
"There are answers ready for opponents, but one 
can never be sure the answers are precisely 
cogent or sufficient" ( College Board Review , 
Spring 1976) . 

The debate about projects like CLEP will never 
end, and this is quite as it should be. It 



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stimulates the credit-by-examination commun- 
ity to continuously examine, improve, and 
update its testing instruments. We will be 
back to you next month with CLEP's rejoinder. 

— James Sulzman — 

OIL IN TROUBLED WATERS 

The end of the trans-Alaska pipeline is in 
the port of Valdez. From there, super- 
tankers will carry North Slope oil to the 
lower 48 states. 

Valdez Harbor is a very dangerous place to 
get into. The inexplicably underexamined 
geography and meteorology of its sea 
approaches are explored in "The Valdez Con- 
nection," by Philip L. Fradkin in Audubon 
for March. The Gulf of Alaska enjoys the 
worst weather in the Northern Hemisphere: 
winds up to 120 miles per hour, huge waves, 
thick fogs, snowstorm whiteouts, and 
floating ice. 

Valdez Arm is long, narrow, and storm-tossed, 
funneling down to a width of one mile where 
Middle Rock guards the harbor entrance. In- 
credibly, no real-life test of navigational 
problems was made before Valdez was desig- 
nated as the pipeline terminal. (A month of 
trial runs is scheduled for this year.) 

Fradkin' s careful, detached, lengthy study 
identifies perils that leave the reader with 
his mouth open. 

— CAM— 

SECOND BATTLE OF GUERNICA 

Art is international, transcending borders — 
or so we are led to believe. But is art 
politics, economics, or the expression of 
beauty? And can an art museum dictate the 
terms of a nation's political persuasion? 

The question is posed by Philip Nobile in the 
March Harper's ("Skirmish over 'Guernica'"). 
The nation is Spain. the museum is New 
York's Museum of Modern Art. The subject of 
disagreement is possession of Picasso's great 
mural, "Guernica," which has been on 
extended loan to the museum since 1943. 

Picasso, although protesting freedom from 
political leanings, remained in life-long, 
self-imposed exile from his beloved Spain 
after the Civil War. He had painted 



"Guernica" in a six-week frenzy following the 
brutal destruction of the ancient Basque capi- 
tal in the first "trial" saturation bombing 
of a city, in 1937 by Franco — a forerunner of 
the horrors of World War II. The twenty-five 
foot work is in cubist- collage technique, 
painted in stark black, white, and gray images 
whose symbolism resists precise interpretation 
but whose overall impact is one of emotional 
intensity and unbearable agony. 

Its meaning? Picasso stated simply that it 
expressed his "abhorrence of war and brutal- 
ity." But years later, in 1969, he allowed, 
"The truth of the matter is that by means of 
'Guernica' I have the pleasure of making a 
political statement every day in the middle 
of New York." 

Obviously, while Franco was alive Spain did 
not want the painting, no matter how famous 
the artist. Now, with a change of government 
(although not yet to the genuine Spanish 
Republic stipulated by Picasso), Spain says 
it would like the painting back. The Museum 
of Modern Art does not wish to give it up; it 
is the "star" of the finest Picasso collection 
In the world. 

The exact contents of Picasso's will have not 
been made public. Nor will the museum reveal 
them, other than to say that the conditions 
for return have not been met. Picasso's widow 
concurs. The controversy rages. "Guernica" 
does not go to Spain. Picasso enjoyed being 
in the center of a storm. I am sure his 
ghost relishes this one! 

— Virginia Davis — 

JOURNALISM EDUCATION SWAMPED 

Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee's imperious 
summons, "Woodstein!" (in the film version of 
All the President's Men ) has been heard by all 
too many college undergraduates. So observes — 
to put words in his mouth — Ben H. Bagdikian, 
reporter, editor, respected critic of his call- 
ing, and currently lecturer in journalism 
education at UC-Berkeley in "Woodstein U. : 
Notes on the Mass Production and Questionable 
Education of Journalists" ( Atlantic , March) . 
Bagdikian sees problems abounding in journa- 
lism education. 

"The growth rate is double the rate in all 
higher education." In 19 75 there were over 
64,000 declared journalism majors in U.S. 



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colleges and universities. There are, how- 
ever, only 40,000 journalism jobs currently 
held on U.S. newspapers. 

Why the boom? The increased interest in 
journalism has been attributed to the "Wood- 
stein Phenomenon," i.e., the attraction of 
the idealistic young to the model set by 
the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl 
Bernstein, whose investigative reporting 
toppled the Nixon gang. (Who said college 
students aren't idealistic any more? Why 
else would they choose a field in which 
there is demonstrably little chance of 
finding a job?) 

Are they being well educated? These hordes 
of students are not always being given their 
money's worth. The sudden boom apparently 
has led to some pretty sloppy programs. 
Some schools, though (e.g, Missouri, north- 
western, Columbia), are consistently good. 

Does a reporter need a journalism degree? 
Bagdikian's survey of 100 editors of large 
papers found that 58% preferred journalism 
graduates. Their staff situation: 65% of 
their recent employees and 60% of their 
current staffs came from journalism schools. 
But an interesting statistic: of 53 Pulitzer 
Prize-winning journalists in the last ten 
years, 75% did not major in journalism. In 
fact, the prize winners were generally 
hostile to journalism education. 

Then, what justifies training in journalism? 
Two things. First, the technical training 
allows the student to make an intelligent 
career choice. Second, and more important 
to institutions of higher education, such 
programs exist in part "to impart to the 
potential journalist a knowledge of the 
proper role of journalism in society, the 
ethics implied by this role, an encouragement 
of empathy with people they will study for 
the rest of their careers, and some advice 
on what academic programs will provide 
lasting insight into society." Bagdikian 
notes, "Technical training without this 
comprehension is meaningless." 

— Michael Haines — 

HARE TIMES IN ALASKA 

Hard times have come to Alaskan Eskimos with 
the crash of the Western Alaskan caribou herd 



from a quarter million animals to 50,000 in 
five years. A culture is in jeopardy. A proud 
people is reduced to welfare. One of the 
culprits: the snowmobile. See John G. 
Mitchell's "Where Have All the Tuttu Gone?" 
(March Audub on ) . 

— CAM — 

BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER 

One of the consistent and continuous themes 
in the American experience is that this 
country has been, is, and will continue to be 
the land of opportunity for all. From de 
Tocqueville through Veblen and C.W. Mills 
social scientists and students of race and 
ethnic group relations have offered a variety 
of discrepant analyses, testimony, and asser- 
tion about the inevitable assimilation or 
"melting" of American minority groups. 

This optimistic ideology may very well have 
obstructed our ability to explore and construct 
wider imageries of the assimilability of the 
diverse peoples who followed the English to 
these shores. Events of the 1960's and early 
1970 's have caused us to re-examine our 
assumptions and perceptions. In the words of 
Glazer and Moynihan, "The persisting facts of 
ethnicity demand attention, understanding, and 
accommodation" ( Beyond the Melting Pot , 1963) . 

In a new book, Ethnicity: Theory and Exper- 
ience , edited by Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. 
Moynihan (Harvard University Press, 1975), 
a theoretical as well as empirical analysis 
is offered to deal with new phenomena of 
ethnicity and to help us see even further 
beyond the melting pot. Of particular interest 
in this volume is a contribution by Andrew M. 
Greeley and William C. McCready — both of the 
National Opinion Research Center — "The Trans- 
mission of Cultural Heritages: The Case of 
the Irish and the Italians," For one who has 
studied seriously the process of assimilation 
of the Portusuese immigrant in America, the 
Greeley and McCready paper provides a potent- 
ially fruitful model and raises some hard 
questions concerning the role of cultural 
heritage and ethnic identity. 

The study answers one central question: do 
the cultural heritages of the Old World persist 
among the children and grandchildren of 



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immigrants from the various European 
countries? Two ethnic groups, the Irish 
Catholics and the Italians, were chosen for 
comparison on the basis of 75 hypotheses, 
using the Anglo-Saxon American as the norm. 
The attitudes, values, and behavior measured 
included personality traits (for example, 
trust, authoritarianism, anxiety) , political 
participation, moral issues {such as sexual- 
ity and drinking behavior) , respect for the 
democratic process, and attitudes toward 
family structure. 

The investigators' hypothetical predictions 
were correct at a statistically significant 
level 34 times and incorrect 18 times at a 
significant level in the opposite direction. 
Thus, in 52 of the 75 comparisons, the three 
ethnic groups exhibited "significant" differ- 
ences . 

A few examples of the findings. In certain 
personality variables the Irish are less 
"anxious" and "authoritarian" and more 
"trusting" than the Italians and the Anglo- 
Saxon Americans. In political participation 
the Irish score higher. In the category 
"moral issues" the Italians are less likely 
to have alcohol problems than the Irish and 
are more likely to be restrictive of both 
male and female sexual behavior. 

Both Irish and Anglo-Saxons have higher 
scores on the democratic process scale than 
do Italians, a finding which is at odds with 
the popular myth of the Irish as hardhat, 
lunchpail reactionary, anti-Semitic racists. 
In the final category the Italians prove more 
traditional on family ties, while the Irish 
are more traditional on the role of women. 

The implications of Greeley and McCready's 
work are many and varied. If one knows the 
indigenous character of the countries of 
origin, one can make successful predictions 
in certain directions about two-thirds of 



the time--a degree of probability somewhat 
superior to tossing a coin. Many commentators 
on American life tend to assume that Old World 
heritages are irrelevant to an understanding 
of the perceptions and behavior of ethnic 
groups. This study would refute such a posi- 
tion. The European tradition is more important 
and complex than most of us would have thought. 

Here we have an effort to deal with the logos 
of the phenomenology of consciousness of 
immigrant groups, the groundwork for which is 
laid in ethnicity. This is a problem worthy 
of scholarly examination not merely because 
an analysis of ethnicity puts us in touch with 
our roots on romantic grounds — a knowledge 
without which we are bound to encounter some 
distress — but rather because such knowledge 
will afford us more positive, creative, and 
dynamic modalities with which to apprehend the 
process of assimilation in American society. 

— Sam Gomez — 

OUT-OF-THE-WAY 

Some attractive pieces in under-used journals. 

"Physical Science as Humane Inquiry," by R. B. 
Smith. J. of College Science Teaching , January. 

"Why Speech Will Not Totally Replace Writing," 
by Thomas M. Sawyer. College Composition and 
Communication , February. 

"Mental Heck," by Fred Foldvary. Journal of 
Recreational Mathematics , vol. 9, no. 1. A 
variation of the card game called "Oh Hell." 

"A Playground — Why Not Let the Children Create 
It?" by A. B. Suter. Young Children , March. 

"Blending Career Education Concepts with the 
Foreign Language Curriculum: Responding to the 
Challenge," by Ann A. Beusch and William De- 
Lorenzo. Foreign Language Annals , February. 

"Forum: Censorship, the Law, and the Teacher 
of English." Four articles in English Journal , 
March. 

— Ann Terryberry — 



The Mind's Eye will appear monthly when the college is in session. Members of the college 
community are invited to participate as editors and contributors. Suggestions as to cover- 
age, format, and content are sought. Editorial Board: Stephen A. Green, R. Michael Haines, 
Charles A. Mclsaac, Thomas A. Mulkeen. Editor: Charles A. Mclsaac,